The Ghana Prisons Service (GPS), between 2014 and 2015, borrowed GH¢416,850 from its Agriculture Revolving Fund to pay the rent arrears of personnel of the service living outside official barracks
The decision to borrow from the fund stemmed from the fact that landlords locked out officers from their homes and threw out their belongings.
The Director of the GPS, Mr Patrick Darko Missah, made this known when he appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament yesterday.
He said some officers were sent to court, so it was a critical situation that led to borrowing from the fund.
Mr Missah appeared before the PAC together with the Minister of the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery, and some officials of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) and the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS).
He was answering a question from a member of the committee, Mr Clement Apaak, the Member of Parliament for Builsa South in the Upper East Region, on what had occasioned the decision to borrow from the fund and the measures being taken to curtail continued borrowing from it.
Mr Missah said the service had been able to refund GH¢170,656 as of the end of 2016 and written a letter to the Ministry of Finance, through the Ministry of the Interior, requesting for GH¢248,420 to settle the outstanding arrears.
According to the 2016 Auditor-General’s Report on the GPS, the indebtedness of the service to the Agriculture Revolving Fund did not augur well for the purpose for which the fund was set up.
The fund was set up to support agricultural activities of the service, but the lack of funds forced the service to dip its hands into it to enable
Acknowledging the need to improve budgetary allocation to the service, Mr Missah said the GPS currently had an outstanding balance of GH¢43,600 in rent allowance payment.
The government approved a 20 per cent rent allowance for officers who were not accommodated at the official barracks in January 2017.
“As a result, from 2017 to the first quarter of 2018 all payments with regard to rent had been settled and all house officers had received allowances for their rent,” Mr Missah added.
Earlier in a separate appearance, the Deputy Minister of Defence, Major Derrick Oduro (retd), had told the PAC that the government was determined to address the acute accommodation problem facing military personnel in the country.
He said since accommodation at the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) was not the best, the government had come up with “barracks regeneration projects” to put up more accommodation facilities and complete ongoing projects for personnel.
He said some of the regeneration projects had been completed and were being used by the military.
Major Oduro was joined by the top hierarchy of the GAF to answer questions on issues raised in the 2016 Auditor- General’s Report on the Ministry of Defence.
Answering a question on incentives to boost the morale of military personnel, particularly accommodation and better retirement packages for junior military officers, he said morale within the GAF was “very high”.